Introducing EA Profiles

by Tom_Ash3rd Oct 201412 comments

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We’re excited to announce EA Profiles, a new community platform for effective altruists. There are already hundreds of profiles for you to browse from members of the community such as Peter Singer and Jeff Kaufman, full of interesting information like people’s favoured causes and charities, and the actions they’re taking to make the world a better place. And you can create your own right now!

The Profiles should serve as a virtual “Who’s Who” of EA - a place to see information about those who identify with effective altruism, and share what we’re doing to inspire and motivate others. They enable applications such as a map of EAs and a cause-neutral registry of past and planned donations, which we cover in a separate announcement

Individual members of the effective altruist community

Your EA Profile provides a natural, standard way to share your identification with the ideas of effective altruism and the ways in which you and people you know can do enormous amounts of good, from spreading these ideas to donating to highly efficient charities. We know that people can be slow or cautious about sharing this, but for familiar reasons think that doing so is highly valuable, spreading and normalising a focus on effectiveness and high impact donations. And making a Profile is a great excuse to do so: you’re sharing this information because we asked for it! You can then point people to it, potentially triggering interesting conversations with friends who might like to hear about the ways they can do the most good.

Many of the Profiles come from answers which people opted to make public in the first annual survey of effective altruists this year (which is still open if you haven’t taken it yet; if you have, you can retroactively make selected answers public in a Profile, from your past donations to your location for the map). Peter Hurford is currently working on analysing the survey results and will share them and the raw data from the survey soon, but for now the EA Profiles provide some of the most interesting results: public information on the inspiring actions that individuals are taking.

If you’re interested in building up this project, or working on other similar projects, consider looking into .impact, a coordinated volunteer force working on potentially high-impact projects like this one.

See also: Introducing an EA Donation Registry

11 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 12:19 PM
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Thanks for your hard work on putting this together! It's so inspiring to see everyone's profiles!

Yes, they make for very interesting browsing!

Many thanks for help on this project to Peter Hurford, Xio Kikauka, Joey Savoie, George O'Neill and everyone else who pitched in, commented and suggested features :) Thanks also to Pablo Stafforini for creating the original version of the map of EAs, and to Patrick Brinich-Langlois and Sören Mindermann for further help on this.

Also, thanks to Ted Suzman, who I learnt made an earlier version of an EA profiles base at eaprofiles.com (before dropping the project due to lack of time), and has kindly redirected that domain name to our version.

Great project!!! Cannot wait to see the results for the annual survey.

A few people have commented elsewhere or emailed me asking about a discussion section, as that's clearly key to a strong community, so I'll repeat what I said:

"Thanks! We link to the EA forum and Facebook group for discussion as it makes sense to concentrate discussion in a few venues rather than creating a new place for it, for its own sake. The EA forum's been quite active so far, and the Facebook group recently passed 4,000 members, and seems to have had several threads a day for over a year. (It's the most successful analogous Facebook group I know of - does anyone know of others, and what features they have?)"

Does that sound sensible? Can anyone think of other helpful integrations or synergies?

People may also be interested in Ozzie Gooen's discussion document on the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Monolith Application. I'm conscious of the disadvantages, and am a believer in decentralisation.

As Niel Bowerman commented there, profiles bases sometime do evolve into monoliths. The ever-growing list of things you can do on Facebook is an example, although that's partly because Facebook is a platform for independent applications; in the same way, people can build independent applications either on top of the Profiles or leveraging them somewhere else, through .impact.

Facebook group recently passed 4,000 members

Many of those are spam accounts. A very large number of 'members' have profile set in either Africa, Arabic countries or Pakistan, and most of them seem to be fake accounts.

  • They typically have no or few interests in common with flesh-and-blood EAs
  • Their profiles will show little activity, except for frequent changes of profile picture.
  • Their profile pictures will frequently not depict the same person.
  • If they post statuses, they will be extremely generic, feel-good statuses with little personalisation.
  • They will be a member of many many facebook groups.
  • Often their profile contains no english language content.
  • They never comment in the group, except to occasionally try to sell sunglasses.
  • They have 0 mutual friends, and 0 friends in the group.

Ah, that's interesting, and important as I've often heard people cite the Facebook group as evidence of EA's growth. Do you have a rough sense of how many of them are spam accounts? How many of them actually try spamming? I make a point of staying off Facebook for long periods, but I never noticed a period in which there was a lot of spam - but perhaps this is a sign that there was more moderation going on than I noticed. Is frequent spam the reason we've switched to requiring FB posts to go through pre-moderation before appearing?

Do you have a rough sense of how many of them are spam accounts?

Unfortunately I don't know of any tool that would allow us to easily judge this; FB doesn't make it easy to look at the properties of your group's members. I would guess over half. Most of them are not active - if one posts spam, and I'm on my laptop, I'll block them from the group - unfortunately this option is not available on my phone. Similarly, maybe 50% of all posts to the group are spam of some kind.

Is frequent spam the reason we've switched to requiring FB posts to go through pre-moderation before appearing?

Yes

Interesting, though you'd expect most users to not be active. When you say 50% of posts are spam, do you mean they're "I'm a spambot selling viagra" posts, or "I'm a real person who came across EA and used this group to promote my tangentially related cause/group/etc."?

Mainly product adverts - tends to be sunglasses rather than viagra though.